Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D. Professor and Chair

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Museum Studies, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Dr. Cynthia Conides

Department Home page

First Reader

Dr. Cynthia Conides

Second Reader

Dr. Lisa Marie Anselmi

Third Reader

Noelle Wiedemer


This author presents a study of the Onöndowa’ga:’, an Indigenous group located in Western New York, who are more commonly known as the Seneca. Onöndowa’ga:’Gawenoh[1]to the Onöndowa’ga:’, like all Indigenous people, is a form of intangible history, history that is interconnected with who they are and where they come from. The history of who the Onöndowa’ga:’ were and still are, as well as what their language means to their culture, is the groundwork for understanding how devastating US policies became for them. While many areas of culture were impacted by those policies, the largest target was on Indigenous languages. It was understood that languages were a complex part of who the Indigenous peoples of this land were and in order to disrupt them and their ways of life, they must be destroyed. Many policies were constructed by the United States government, some obvious and others hidden in bigger legislation, that were aimed at the extermination of Native Americans or their ways of life. That was not always the relationship between them. Colonists and the early American Republic understood the need to work with and recognize Native American sovereignty, but as the country grew, so did the need for new areas to settle. After decades of suppression the Onöndowa’ga:’, as well as many other Indigenous people, are finding ways to reconnect with their language as a means to deepen and expand their cultural identity and reaffirm their sovereignty.

[1]Translates to “Seneca Language”